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How to Tell if Your Child Is Delayed in Hearing and Speech

When your child is born, you anxiously await the news that everything is in good order — 10 fingers and 10 toes, as they say. But it’s the next 2-3 years when you can truly get an idea about your child’s development and function, especially when it comes to speech and hearing.

At Little Wonders Pediatric Therapy, we help parents in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area navigate this critical time, ensuring that important milestones are met and stepping in when they aren’t. And as your child starts to interact with the world around them, you need to be on the lookout for any problems with communication.

To get you started, here’s a look at some of the red flags when it comes to hearing and speech.

Speech versus language

It’s important to understand that speech and language are two different things. Your child’s speech is their ability to form words correctly. Their language, on the other hand, is how they communicate with the world around them. And problems can be found in either or both of these areas.

To determine whether your child may be struggling with speech, let’s take a look at some rules of thumb when it comes to speech development. While we hesitate to put exact numbers on development, since every child goes at their own pace, for the sake of simplicity we’ll use some standard timelines.

1-2 years old

While your child may have been a babbler right from the start, typically between the ages of one and two they should be able to make the following sounds properly: b, h, m, p, and w. If they struggle with these letters, it may be a sign of a speech disorder.

2-3 years old

If your child doesn’t pronounce d, f, g, k, n, and t correctly, and you’re having problems understanding them, it may signal a speech problem.


If your child begins to repeat letters between the ages of 2-½ and 3, such as d-d-d-dog, they may have an issue with stuttering.

Language problems present themselves quite differently from speech problems and manifest themselves in the way your child interacts and forms sentences. If your child isn’t putting two or more words together by age 2, and relies more on gesturing, they may have an issue with language. Most kids have a vocabulary of 50 words by the time they’re 2, and if your child falls short of this, you’ll notice it in the way they communicate.

Hearing problems

Hearing problems often go hand in hand with speech and language problems, and the most common signs children may display are:

Again, we don’t like to put exact numbers on these situations because every child develops differently. For example, your child may be more observant than talkative, which doesn’t mean they have any problems with hearing or speech.

The bottom line is that you know your child best, and you can observe them as they interact with the world, as well as other children of their own age. If you’re in any doubt, please do come and see us so we can we run some simple tests. If we find there’s a problem, we can get started on some excellent therapies right away to provide your child with the tools they need. Simply call our office to schedule an appointment.

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